OMAHA, Neb. – Bob Boozer, a member of the dominating 1960 Olympic basketball team who went on to star in the NBA, has died of a brain aneurysm. He was 75.
Ella Boozer said Sunday that her husband died Saturday afternoon an Omaha hospital. He had become ill Friday night while having dinner with friends, she said.
Boozer was a two-time All-American at Kansas State in 1958-59 and played 11 years in the NBA after the Cincinnati Royals drafted him No. 1 overall. The 6-foot-8 forward retired after winning the 1971 NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks.
He played with Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas on the gold medal winning 1960 Olympic team and went on to average 14.8 points and 8.1 rebounds for six professional teams.
"Bob always said that he got everything you could have ever gotten from playing basketball," said Ella Boozer, his wife of 46 years.
Boozer and his teammates on the 1960 Olympic team were inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. The star-studded squad won eight games by an average of 42.4 points, and 10 of them played in the NBA.
Born and raised in Omaha, Boozer blossomed into a three-time all-conference pick and a two-time All-American at Kansas State. He averaged 21.9 points for his career, and his 25.2 points a game as a senior is second in school history to Michael Beasley's 26.2 points in 2007-08. Boozer led the Wildcats to the NCAA Final Four as a junior, and as a senior he helped K-State to a No. 1 ranking in the final regular-season poll.
Boozer delayed entering the NBA for a year so he could retain his amateur status for the Olympics. He averaged 6.8 points for the American team that beat Brazil 90-63 for the gold medal in Rome.
Ella Boozer said her husband took delight in good-natured arguments about whether the 1960 Olympic team was better than the 1992 "Dream Team," which included Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Charles Barkley. She said Bird joked with Boozer about how the '60 Olympians had to swim across the Atlantic Ocean to get to Rome and had to live on a dollar day.
The Chicago Bulls selected Boozer in the 1966 expansion draft, and he averaged 20.4 points and 8.7 rebounds in three seasons with the team. He made his only All-Star appearance in 1968 while with the Bulls. He played with Robertson and Lew Alcindor while winning the '71 title with the Bucks.
He returned to Omaha after his playing days and worked as an executive for the telephone company. He was appointed to the Nebraska Parole Board in the 1990s and volunteered at Boys Town, the home for troubled youth.
Ella Boozer said her husband had been in good health before he fell ill while having dinner with friends on Friday evening. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where the aneurysm was discovered. Ella Boozer said she and her son decided to take him off life support Saturday afternoon.
Funeral arrangements were pending.